Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar freed, given royal pardon

Cheryl Sanders
May 16, 2018

Malaysia's king, Sultan Muhammad V, officially pardoned Anwar on Wednesday after a meeting at the palace with members of the pardons board and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The pardons board met on Wednesday morning, giving a reprieve to the long-time opposition leader who was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five years in jail, which was considered to be a politically-motivated charge.

The Pakatan Harapan, a four-party alliance driven by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Mr Anwar won the general election last week, ousting the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition for the first time in the history of the Southeast Asian nation.

Anwar emerged from the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday after Malaysia's Pardon Board, which included the current King, chose to overturn the 2015 conviction, which is widely accepted to be politically motivated.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from custody after receiving a royal pardon, paving the way for a political comeback following his alliance's stunning election victory.

His freedom is expected to ease fears of a growing rift within the newly formed coalition government, after differences erupted between supporters of Mahathir and Anwar over cabinet positions and Anwar's role in the party.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is now a free man.

Anwar was supposed to speak to the press outside the centre upon his release, but the sheer hubbub from supporters and media seems to have delayed this.

Arrested in 1974 in student protests against rural poverty, Anwar was sentenced to 20 months in jail.

SEE ALSO: Malaysian election belongs to Mahathir: now what? .

The freed politician was the heir apparent to then-premier Mahathir until 1998, when he was sacked and charged for corruption and sodomy.

The sodomy conviction was overturned, but the corruption verdict was never lifted, barring him from running for political post until a decade later.

He was jailed again in 2015, under the reign of Najib Razak. Human rights groups were highly critical when the conviction was upheld, calling it politically motivated - a claim the government denied.

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